I received an email from a client the other day, asking a question. I read it, and as I did so, I made an assumption as to the motivation behind her question. So, as you can imagine, I responded with that assumption firmly in place.
Her email response was short and to the point. And just a bit miffed. As I read what she wrote, I realized the motivation I assigned to her question was wrong.
The thing is, she’d also assigned a motivation to my response, and her assumption was incorrect. Had I written what I did with the motivation she assumed, I wouldn’t have blamed her for being miffed. But—for once—I was innocent. As she had been innocent of my assumption.
Because this client is also a dear friend, I hated that my response, and my assumption, had bothered her. Even hurt her. I called and texted an apology. And when we finally talked it through, we agreed that we need to be more careful, especially in these increasingly busy and chaotic days, about thinking we know why people say what they say, be in in email or conversation.
Which brings me to this blog. Email, text, Facebook, Twitter…there are so many ways to contact and talk with—or about—people. Trouble is, it’s all removed from the clues that fill us in on motivation and intent—facial expression, intonation, body language, and so on. So take it from someone for whom jumping to conclusions is the only exercise I get (sigh…), take a few extra seconds to be sure what you’re writing is what you really want to say. And when you read things in the ol’ cyber world, if you’re not clear as to motivation or intent, go the extra mile and ask.
Like my sweet mother always said, “It’s far better to know than to assume.” And it’s all part of extending grace—something we all need to offer.